The face of the Houston Astros roster has changed drastically before even the 2016 Winter Meetings started. Brian McCann will be the Astros starting catcher while Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick will be patrolling the Minute Maid Park outfield.
Now the Astros are attempting to find the final pieces to help make the final push around the young core in Houston.
Multiple reports have stated the Astors are shopping some of their older pieces at the Winter Meetings — ESPN’s Jayson Stark is reporting the are open to dealing RHP Collin McHugh and RHP Mike Fiers and Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo includes catcher Evan Gattis on that shopping list.
Why would the Astros be shopping key pieces for the past few season?
MLB Trade Rumors projects McHugh ($4.6 million) and Fiers ($4.3 million) to get over $4 million next season in arbitration. While Gattis is earning a base salary of $5.2 million in 2017.
Small potatoes compared to $ 152.5 million increase in team salary since the Astros paid for Yulieski Gurriel in the final part of the 2016 season.
The money isn’t really the issue for any of the three players unless owner Jim Crane is still living in a world with Houston being a “small market”.
Collin McHugh struggled last season with a 13-10 record in 4.34 ERA in 33 starts. Mike Fiers continued to struggle to hold down a starting spot with an 11-8 record and a 4.48 ERA in 31 games (30 starts).
Neither McHugh and Fiers would be a sell-high candidate but both players have control until 2019.
Evan Gattis came off an injury to start the 2016 season to bat .251 (122x447) with 32 home runs and 72 RBIs. But Gattis was successful when playing the field instead of exclusively playing designated hitter — he batted .295 (56x190) with 19 home runs and 41 RBI in 52 games as a catcher.
It’s hard to ignore Gattis production behind the plate. But Brian McCann replaces Jason Castro to fill in the roster and Gattis remains as the No. 2 catcher.
The 2016 Astros rotation at moment reads as follows: Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers, Charlie Morton, and Joe Musgrove.
Kuechel, McCullers, and Musgrove appear to be locked in for the rotation. The team added Morton for the Scott Feldman/Doug Fister role, and Chris Devenski could still find a home as a starter.
So it’s easy to see why Houston could be shopping McHugh and Fiers — especially if they looking to add starting pitching in the form of Jose Quintana and Chris Archer.
On the Gattis front, McCann is the No.1 catcher and Houston would be happy to role Carlos Beltran at designated hitter each game. So Gattis could get a good return while having answer to fill in his at-bats.